Ethiopian celebrity expanding into coffee export

Kabu Coffee, the cafe owned by celebrated Ethiopian artist Aster Aweke, is to expand its business and provide export quality “value-added coffee”. While Kabu continues to be known for its food and drink – including coffee, salads, pastries, and its signature dish, the American Burger since it launched its cafe business in mid 2010, Capital learned that the company is branching out into other sectors.

 

For this new investment, the company has expanded its initial investment capital to 10 million birr.

Among its latest ventures, Kabu is marketing its high quality roasted coffee to domestic and international customers that Aman Adinew, Kabu’s adviser, claims was one of the company’s goals from the start.

“Kabu’s tagline – ‘Coffee Redefined’ – means that we don’t simply boil and serve our customers just any coffee, or any food and drink, for that matter,” Aman said. “We handpick our materials ourselves. We don’t want to depend on someone else; we want complete control over quality and ingredients. We are in the business to change the rules of the game.”

Kabu’s owners firmly believe that, by adding value to coffee (Ethiopia’s number-one export product), the county has the opportunity to capture even more foreign currency.

“The roasted coffee market has been dominated by Europeans for so many years, it’s about time Ethiopia shares in the benefits,” Aman told Capital. “Kabu, along with its sister company, is working with a major German firm to launch the roasted and instant coffee industry here in Ethiopia, that will be new for the country. We believe this move will totally change the customer’s experience around the world. Coffee lovers worldwide will truly experience Ethiopian coffee that is especially prepared at the source, guaranteeing that the coffees are not blended with other types and sold as ‘Ethiopian Arabica Coffee’.”

Aman believes this venture has the potential to not only generate more money for the county, but also provide employment opportunities for hundreds of Ethiopians and transfer knowledge and technology to the birthplace of Arabica coffee.

Kabu Coffee that is situated on Bole Medhanialem Road, in front of SOS head quarters is also partnering with its sister company to set up a coffee laboratory at the company’s Gerji headquarters, which will be used to train coffee quality professionals, provide assistance to roasters, importers and exporters, and serve to verify the quality and consistency of Kabu’s coffee.

“This laboratory will be shared with our sister company, which is set up to farm, process and export speciality coffee. It will enable both of our companies to consistently deliver high-quality coffee to our customers,” Aman told Capital. “Kabu’s focus is on product quality and customer satisfaction, not how much money we make. We’re convinced that, if you deliver a superior product without cutting corners or compromising on quality, the customers will come. We make sure that all our products – whether coffee, pastries or burgers – are prepared to order, with the freshest ingredients, on the premises.”

The proprietors’ years of experience in America, and additional years of experience in dealing with the export of coffee from Ethiopia, has helped Kabu enter the niche market of exporting both green and roasted coffee to the international market.

“Our ultimate goal is to participate in the entire value chain, that is, farming, wet/dry milling, processing, roasting and exporting,” said Aman. “We also want to expand the retail/cafe within Addis Ababa and North America.” The company that already registered in USA has also planned to roast coffee in America to supply fresh roasted coffee for the region. Until we commence coffee roasting in the US we will supply the roasted coffee from Ethiopia through airfreight,” he explained.

According to Aman, Kabu is one of a handful of establishments in Ethiopia that buys green coffee, processes it and roasts in-house. “This is our reputation,” he added.

Kabu hopes to expand even more, introducing brick oven pizzas and providing outside catering services. Kabu also hosts events for various organizations in an artistic setting, designed to reflect a blend of the modern and traditional. In line with its marketing strategy, Kabu has planned to introduce Jazz music two days a week.

According to Aman, “Our customers tend to come from the communities of artists, expatriates, the Ethiopian Diaspora, university students, businesspeople who operate in and around Addis Ababa.”

“Clearly, the company has big plans and, by all appearances, Aster Aweke and her team are poised to do for the Ethiopian coffee industry what she did for the Ethiopian music industry,” the advisor concluded.